This would be a fitting end to this saga.
Texas isn’t giving up on saving Fairfield Lake State Park, a 1,820-acre park that operated on leased land for decades until the owner sold it earlier this year. On Thursday, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioners gave the agency’s executive director the power to take “all necessary steps” to acquire the property that includes the park.
In late February, visitors said their goodbyes by collecting seashells, skipping rocks and casting their fishing lines from a boat on what they believed was the last day the park, about 100 miles south of Dallas, would be open to the public.
The park had announced it was closing after Vistra Corp., the energy company that had leased the land at no cost to the state, reached an agreement to sell the land to a developer. The state later struck a deal with the new owner to let the park remain open temporarily while the state explored its options.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chair Arch H. “Beaver” Aplin III said during Thursday’s meeting the agency has “sufficient funds” to purchase the park and has made an offer to buy the 5,000 acres of land that includes the park.
“We need more parkland in Texas, not less. And this is a critical moment for Texas during our centennial celebration year,” Aplin said. “I’m committed, and these commissioners are committed, to keeping the park, and we’re determined to protect it for the present and future generations to that end.”
Vistra didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Shawn Todd, founder and CEO of Dallas-based Todd Interests, said Thursday that his company’s contract to buy the property that includes the park isn’t final but will go through “in a matter of days.” Todd said he received an offer from TPWD, “refreshingly saying that they were respecting private property rights and made us an offer to purchase our contract.”
“We responded timely, and in good faith to that offer with a proposal that we felt would have been an incredible win for the Texas parks and for the state of Texas,” Todd said. “And candidly a significant sacrifice to our family and firm.”
He said the agency has not yet responded to the company’s proposal.
See here for the previous entry. I have no idea what kind of counter-offer Todd Interests has made. It would be reasonable to be a bit skeptical of their claims of how good it would be for parks, but I’m willing to hear them out. If the end result is that Fairfield State Park remains open to the public more or less as it was before all this went down, I’d consider that a win. I hope we find out soon.